National Kidney Foundation Statement on Donald W. Seldin, MD - Distinguished Nephrology Teacher and Researcher

Friday, April 27, 2018 - National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is mourning the passing this week of Donald W. Seldin, MD, founder of the University of Texas (UT) Southwestern Medical School and one of the foremost teachers and researchers in clinical nephrology. Each year since 1994, NKF has bestowed the Donald W. Seldin Award established expressly to recognize and champion excellence in the field.
“He was a founding father of nephrology, a visionary leader, and a warm human being who inspired thousands of trainees in his 36 years as Chairman of the Department of Medicine at UT Southwestern Medical School,” said Joseph Vassalotti, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the National Kidney Foundation. “He literally transformed decaying military barracks in 1951 to the world-class medical complex that exists today.”
Dr. Seldin, who was 97, was a major figure in distinguishing nephrology as a discipline and as a clinical and scientific subspecialty, training more than 200 nephrologists during the course of his career. “Many of these nephrologists were inspired by Dr. Seldin to become distinguished investigators and chairs of nephrology throughout the U.S. and abroad,” Dr. Vassalotti continued.
A New York City native, Dr. Seldin received his Bachelor of Arts from New York University in 1940 and his MD from Yale University in 1943. The WWII veteran served in the U.S. Army as a Captain of the Medical Corps from 1946 to 1948. Upon his return to the United States, after serving in Germany, he worked as an instructor then professor at Yale University until 1951. That year, Dr. Seldin joined UT Southwestern Medical School as Associate Professor of Medicine, which launched a long, dedicated, pioneering and stellar career in clinical nephrology education, research and leadership. He is a founder of the American Society of Nephrology, one of the seven learned societies around the world to which his peers elected him president. In 2014, at the UT Southwestern South Campus, he enjoyed the singular honor of seeing the dedication of the Dr. Donald Seldin Plaza, complete with a 7-foot bronze statue of himself. More than 400 people, including Nobel Laureates, philanthropists, and campus leaders and physicians, attended the formal ceremony.
“Were it not for the life’s work of Dr. Seldin, nephrology as we know it, and the many advances in the field, would not exist,” said Kevin Longino, CEO of NKF. “What was summed up about Dr. Seldin in our 1990 retrospective book, National Kidney Foundation: The First 40 Years, still stands. The passage stated that ‘Nephrology in the United States is what it is today because one day, many years ago, Donald W. Seldin decided to make it his major area of interest,’” Longino quoted.
Kidney Disease Facts
30 million American adults are estimated to have chronic kidney disease—and most aren’t aware of it. 1 in 3 American adults are at risk for chronic kidney disease. Risk factors for kidney disease include diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and family history of kidney failure. People of African American, Hispanic, Native American, Asian or Pacific Islander descent are at increased risk for developing the disease. African Americans are 3 times more likely than Whites, and Hispanics are nearly 1.5 times more likely than non-Hispanics to develop end-stage renal disease (kidney failure).
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) is the largest, most comprehensive and longstanding organization dedicated to the awareness, prevention and treatment of kidney disease. For more information about NKF visit